.- Shortly after receiving an aid package for his country’s starving children, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, praised the work of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), noting that the group has helped the Church in its mission of hope.
The archbishop, who yesterday received a commitment of 10,000 Euro to help 460 children threatened by massive shortages of food and medical supplies from ACN told the charity that “You are helping to keep hope alive.”
Ncube had issued an urgent plea for help, especially for the children, whose lives are threatened by a lack of basic nutrition and medical treatment – a result of Zimbabwe’s dire poverty and the lowest life expectancy in the world, (about 36 years). The population of Bulawayo’s suburbs has soared as needy families, whose homes were destroyed in the government’s universal 2005 slum clearing program, flock to the city.
“I have seen for myself the suffering of these children. The families live next to a rubbish dump and they have to scavenge for whatever they need. Many of the children are sick with HIV and AIDS, and it is a struggle to get food or medicine,” said Archbishop Ncube.
The ACN grant will provide urgent medication and food for the children, who are at grave risk from a very high mortality rate, pay school fees, and help establish a support center at the parish. The project will also provide pastoral care and catechesis for the children. Trained counselors from the area will offer support to the children, many of whom are orphans who have lost their parents to poverty or to AIDS.
Archbishop Ncube recently called on the Church to step up its opposition to the failed government regime, saying he was prepared to stand “in front of blazing guns” with the people to demand President Robert Mugabe’s resignation. But speaking to ACN, he said it was very hard to motivate the people to demonstrate, because they fear a regime which has cowed dissenters – including opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai – with brutal violence.
“The Church must preach hope to the people, to help them keep up their morale through their faith,” stressed the Archbishop. “They must hope in themselves. The people need to master a bit of courage – Mugabe is not that secure in himself,” he added.